The big news at the Beretta booth during the NRA show was the Pico. If you thought the Nano was small, well, the Pico is tiny. It is a double action only hammer fired .380 pistol with a six round magazine, and it was designed to be as thin and snag-free as possible – about .71″ at its widest point.
That’s great for pocket carry, but it does come at a price – the magazine release, which must be pulled down from both sides of the trigger guard, is almost impossible to use with a firing grip on the weapon. The slide stop simply cannot be used as a slide release with a firing grip. The magazine must be removed before the slide can be dropped. This is similar to some of the Kahr pocket pistols, but I think it’s taken even farther with the Pico.
I asked a Beretta rep about this, as I saw the difficulty in manipulating the controls to be a problem, not a benefit. He confirmed my observations, but said that with practice the magazine could be released with the firing hand only, and that the design lended itself well to pocket carry.
This was noticeably easier with the larger of the two magazine releases on the display pistols – one stuck out just a little more side-to-side than the other. Beretta is apparently still trying to decide which magazine release to use on the production firearms. Whether either mag release would be easy to use under stress is highly questionable. I asked why a heel magazine release wasn’t considered, as it might be easier to manipulate while still maintaining a thin profile, but the rep didn’t know.
There are two magazines included with the pistol – both hold six rounds, while one has a flush baseplate and the other has an extended pinky grip. At this time it looks like all of the extended grips are in black, which looks a bit odd on a white pistol with a stainless steel slide.
I liked the multiple available colors, especially the white. Apparently these grip portions can be swapped without changing the serial number of the pistol, but beyond matching a pistol to an outfit, I don’t really see why anyone would bother with that particular feature. On that note, who wants a flat dark earth pistol with a stainless slide? Someone must want that combination, or Beretta wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of manufacturing it.
Although I couldn’t compare it side by side with other pistols in its class, I felt that the Pico’s trigger was uncomfortably close to the backstrap. I normally wear large or extra large gloves, so perhaps those with smaller hands will find its dimensions in this regard to be ideal.
At $399 with standard sights, the Pico is pretty reasonably priced. I should mention that the sights were quite excellent for a subcompact pistol, if somewhat incongruous with the idea of making the pistol as snag-free as possible. There were also Trijicon night sights available, although the rep I spoke to didn’t know how much extra they’d be.
I don’t know that the Pico will make much of a dent in the crowded .380 pocket pistol market. Nor do I think that it’s anything I’ll look at buying any time soon, due to the difficulty I had in manipulating the controls. But I do applaud Beretta for putting some effort into making the Pico different than the competition.